As America wrangles with daunting issues, no challenge is more urgent than protecting the health and well being of our children — now, and as they grow. Over the past several decades, we have witnessed childhood obesity grow to epidemic proportions. More than 23 million children and teenagers are obese or overweight. That’s roughly one child in every three.
New information show that rural Appalachian areas, such as Meigs County, are disproportionately affected. Our adult and child obesity rates both exceed the state’s rate. These youngsters risk developing serious health problems in adulthood, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer.
The financial impact is a sobering $14 billion per year in direct health care costs alone.
The psycho-social consequences can hinder these kids academically and socially. Many parents, health care providers, educators, civic leaders and organizations have created programs and activities to promote healthy eating and physical activity. The effort begins at home.
Parents have enormous influence over their children’s lifestyles by the example they set and the decisions they make, and it isn’t always easy. By modeling healthy eating and physically active lifestyles, we can set our children on the road to a lifetime of good habits.
The fight against childhood obesity gains momentum in September, which is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month. The results can last a lifetime. All children deserve a healthy start in life; it’s our responsibility to make that possible.
Learn more at www.COAM-month.org.
Juli Simpson, RN BSN, LSN
Child & Family Health Services Program Director
Meigs County Health Department